Last Updated on May 23, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
The Best of Braai in South London
I know Southfields best as the place where I get off the tube when I’m going to Wimbledon. It’s just north of Wimbledon village, an area that’s popular with young families looking for decent sized gardens and one of those hidden pockets of London. While it might not have the cachet of Chelsea it has a lovely, friendly vibe and housing with an almost affordable price tag. I can remember friends moving there fifteen years or so ago and telling me that it was like living in Cape Town – the neighbourhood is still popular with South Africans and evenings are punctuated by the back garden braai. Refurbishing one of the main locals, Park Tavern, at the end of 2019 to launch a South African pub complete with Braai and an all South African wine list seems a wise move!
Park Tavern is a largish pub with great semi-covered and heated outdoor space at the back and with a smaller terrace at the front of the building. Inside it’s cosy with lots of wood panelling and comfy seating. While we can now eat indoors though, I have plenty of friends who prefer not to right now – and in any case, the beer garden at the back of the pub is the kind of place I’d have happily spent a few hours or more on a pre-covid evening. So, I suspect it will continue to be a popular place even when the fear of covid is a distant memory. Especially when everyone has tried the food and wine!
My South African companion was noticeably excited by the menu. There’s a selection of snacks -a meat selection plate which includes droëwors, biltong, pork belly terrine, rosemary bread, smoked almonds and cucumber pickles would hit the spot rather better than crisps and olives and there’s a cheese option too. But, the main part of the menu is devoted to burgers, steaks and sharing platters.
We started with biltong, droëwors and rosemary bread – all delicious of course. The bread had a crunchy crust and a light fluffy interior and the biltong was deliciously tender. . There’s something about those morsels of air-dried meats that just makes me want to eat the lot. A bottle of Groot Constantia Rosé helped wash everything down. At £29.50 this was an excellent quality wine that I’d have happily continued drinking through the meal. But, perhaps the lure of the Big Braai (which will easily feed four and meant that between the three of us we needed a doggy bag to take home what was left) deserved something robust and red. Iona One Man Band (£39) is a Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot blend at 15% – and it packs a beautifully fruity punch. I’m no expert on South African wines but these were both exceptionally good and well priced.
What of the Big Braai though? My South African companions told me that this was the heart of the Braai. The massive platter of food comprised a 700g T-Bone steak and 300g flat iron, neatly sliced for sharing, peri-peri chicken wings, chargrilled broccoli, a delicious potato salad, skin on chips and ‘braaibroodjie’ – a South African braai toastie with cheese, tomato, onion and chutney.
It may just have been a mild form of torture for our fourth companion. The Park Tavern is a dog-friendly venue – and this very patient young pup (she’s only 9 months old) behaved impeccably, despite the large platter of ‘dog treats’ on the table.
The Big Braai platter comes with a set of sauces, some of which I knew only by reputation (Monkey Gland anyone?). While they were delicious, I really didn’t want to add anything to the perfectly seasoned meat, which is supplied by butchers Uncle Beef who source the beef from a 6th Generation farm in Scotland.
We finished the meal off with a shared portion of malva pudding – a light, apricot laced sponge and with a glass of Groot Constantia Grand Constance dessert wine, which is apparently South Africa’s oldest wine. Delicious!
Park Tavern, with sharing platters, steaks and burgers (yes there are a few veggie options) would be a great place to meet up with a group of friends. I was particularly impressed by the exceptionally well-priced wine list – it’s somewhere you could go and enjoy some very decent food and drink without breaking the bank. The Big Braai platter we shared is priced at £80 for four – and there are some excellent wines on the list between £20 and £30 a bottle.
They also have a great home delivery service if you live within their catchment area – barbeque boxes, wine, beer and more. Born out of necessity for a pub that opened a few months before the first lockdown. So, if you don’t fancy going out, it’s still worth checking.
212 Merton Road
Looking for something different? We also loved Kudu Collective – a South African restaurant in Peckham